Voluntary euthanasia deaths in Quebec outstrip predictions by three to oneBMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6331 (Published 23 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6331
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These are interesting figures but not unduly alarming. It is unclear why the number of estimated deaths was so low but the overall figures are in line with those from Oregon, where the population and numbers dying are both roughly half those of Quebec. At a time when there is wider acceptance of some form of assisted dying in an increasing number of States in the USA there is perhaps less likely to have been a learning curve of acceptance of this option. Detailed analysis by disease profile, hospice facilities, religion, occupational histories and public attitudes would also provide useful grounds for comparison but data from more than 1-2 years are needed. The report emphasises the need for careful monitoring of all deaths where there is some form of assisted dying. In Oregon last year there was a lower percentage than in many previous years of people given a prescription but then choosing to continue to an assisted death. One has to consider whether this opportunity for second thoughts applies to the same extent with the system in Quebec.
Competing interests: Member of Health Professionals for Assisted Dying